December 26, 2012
Caley battle to draw
Inverness maintained their reputation as a tough side to defeat after twice coming from behind to hold on to second place in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League with a 2-2 draw against St Mirren.
Inverness had lost only once in their previous 18 matches in all competitions and surpassed their goals tally for last season as they took their total to 44, two more than their entire haul in 2011-12.
Injuries and suspensions left St Mirren boss Danny Lennon a player short on the substitutes' bench but the Paisley side stunned Inverness when they scored after just 76 seconds following a lightning three-man move started by Stephen Thompson.
Dougie Imrie finished it off with a low angled shot from 18 yards after Paul McGowan had also played his part as the link man.
Andrew Shinnie equalised after 38 minutes only for Thompson to put St Mirren back in the driving seat 10 minutes after the restart.
However, Inverness captain Richie Foran headed the home side level again with 67 minutes played.
Inverness recovered quickly from their early setback and after a period of fairly sustained pressure, Owain Tudur Jones almost snatched an equaliser with a snap-shot from 25 yards that sneaked past the left post in the 18th minute.
Almost immediately afterwards Andrew Shinnie opened up the defence with a neat flick to Foran but he was denied by Craig Samson's block at the back post.
But St Mirren very nearly increased their lead after 21 minutes. Graham Carey's fiercely struck free-kick on the right side from 25 yards cannoned off the crossbar with goalkeeper Antonio Reguero rooted to the spot.
Thompson was presented with a half-chance for the Paisley side three minutes later after Gary Teale had engineered the opening, but proceeded to shoot wildly high over the crossbar.
Inverness returned to the offensive and top-scorer Billy McKay was denied his 19th goal of the season when Samson made an outstanding save to block the striker's header from point-blank range after Aaron Doran had played the ball in.
But the keeper was unable to stop Shinnie's strike drawing Inverness level after 38 minutes.
McKay played a pass to the midfielder and Shinnie cut inside before looking up quickly to pick his spot and drove the ball in the top right-hand corner from approximately 25 yards.
But St Mirren should have gone back in front three minutes from the interval when Teale delivered a short corner to Thompson who again blazed the ball over, this time from eight yards.
Inverness began the second half encouragingly and McKay should have done better than shoot weakly wide from close range with only Samson to beat after Andrew Shinnie had cut the ball back for him.
It turned out to be an even costlier miss when Thompson atoned for his previous profligacy by restoring St Mirren's advantage 10 minutes after the restart, heading home Teale's cross from close in.
But Inverness continued to look capable of exploiting deficiencies in St Mirren's back division and they did so after 67 minutes.
Doran lashed in a powerful shot and Samson could only push the ball into the air and Foran was able to head past him from close range.
St Mirren looked increasingly fragile and Samson had to pull off an outstanding one-handed save to block Andrew Shinnie's attempt to fire Inverness in front in the 69th minute.
St Mirren very nearly snatched a dramatic late victory when substitute Lewis Guy hit the post and then the crossbar in quick succession.
|Inverness Caledonian Thistle||St Mirren|
|12 Antonio Reguero||1 Craig Samson|
|5 Gary Warren||5 Lee Mair|
|2 David Raven||2 David van Zanten|
|32 Matthew Cooper||23 David Barron|
|3 Graeme Shinnie||21 Gary Teale|
|4 Owain Tudur-Jones||10 Paul McGowan|
|10 Andrew Shinnie||11 Carey|
|8 Ross Draper||8 John Robertson|
|9 Richie Foran||9 Steven Thompson|
|17 Aaron Doran||7 Dougie Imrie|
|7 William McKay||29 John McGinn|
|31 Scott Mathieson||Chris Smith 12|
|19 Gavin Morrison||Sean Kelly 25|
|21 Liam Polworth||Anthony Brady 34|
|20 Martin Laing||Mo Yaqub 33|
|22 Conor Pepper||Sam Parkin 19|
|18 Shane Sutherland||Lewis Guy 27|
|23 Philip Roberts|
|Philip Roberts for William McKay (84)||Lewis Guy for Paul McGowan (66)|
|Lewis Guy (76)|
|John McGinn (87)|
|· Squads: Inverness Caledonian Thistle | St Mirren|